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I twist the knob, push open the door. Blake’s room’s all dark green walls with gold trim, and black furniture. He’s at his desk, pouring over a school book.

“I brought back your phone.”

He nods, but doesn’t look up.

Crossing the room, I lay the cell on the desk by his hand. Whatever he’s studying, it’s more important than me.

My thumb comes up to my teeth. “I’m sorry, Blake. I should have done better with Maisy.”


The word slides through my chest, leaving a thin, narrow hole in its wake. He could have denied it, could have said…but Blake’s not a liar. Never has been.

My legs are thick, stiff, unwilling to take the few steps to the hallway. It takes all my will to move them, to reach for the doorknob.

“Goodnight, Blake.”
~ ~ ~



He started to wade into the field, leaving a trail behind him in crushed wildflowers. Marked out against the mountain, against the sky- he looked small. The world was great and wide, and Montana's horizons proved that on an epic scale.

Plucking a fuzzy-headed stem, I brushed it against my chin as I followed him. "You come out here a lot?"

With one more step, Brandon suddenly rose out of the field. He must have found the pitcher's mound, because now he stood above the nodding, bowing grasses that surrounded us. "I just wanted to get you alone."

Fear and delight played through me. Blustering, I put my hands on my hips and asked, "Well, you did. Now what?"
~ ~ ~



There was a strange, hand painted scent in New York City that morning, the stenciled breath of things about to happen, things about to change. Not that Kiera really could compare New York today to any other day—she’d only been here a handful of times, despite living just an hour away in Portland.

Portland, Connecticut, that is. Not to be confused with the home of the trailblazers (Kiera had never even been to Oregon), Portland, Maine, a random town in Australia, or a prison in the UK. Population 9,000, Portland was home of 1 Dairy Queen, 2 gas stations, 1 family grocery store, a Dunkin Donuts, and a bed and breakfast. Most people didn’t even notice it as they cruised to or from Middletown on the Arrigoni Bridge. Today, in the vast, towering expanse of New York, Kiera could breathe a sigh of relief.

Yet despite being away from home, with her friends on the day-long senior trip, Kiera couldn’t feel truly at ease. She couldn’t find her colored-pencil set that morning, so she was forced to think in black and white on the pages of her art notebook. The black lead drew her to the words all around her—the plain, modern lettering on the New York Public Library, a semi truck with a curiously unreadable brand name, and a graying man who looked suspiciously out of place—even in the streets of New York—in blue janitor-like clothes with the name Mark scrawled on his nametag in what Kiera could have sworn was Lucida Sans.
~ ~ ~



“Your aunt did what?” Andrew slammed his locker shut and walked over. I was so busy staring at Ethan I hadn’t even noticed him until now. Maddy and I glanced at each other and shrugged.

“Oh, nothing,” I said, though deep down inside I wished some of my aunt’s magic had helped me get the guy. What was wrong with wanting that?

Andrew readjusted his backpack. “Hey, you want me to carry that?” He pointed to one of my books that at the moment hung precariously close to the edge.

I tried to push the book back up but Andrew grabbed it just in time.

“Wow, my hero,” I said.

Andrew blushed deep red and took a step back. “Hey, we better get to class. Don’t want to be late and risk getting detention.” He didn’t wait for our comment, instead made his way down the quickly empting hallway.

Maddy tugged my arm. “Now if only Andrew was Ethan.” She made a dramatic sigh. “Then you’d have it made. Though you have to admit he is kind of cute.”

“Yeah, in a brother kind of way.”

Maddy giggled. “Right.”

I wrinkled my nose, avoiding the strange sensation spreading through my body. Andrew and me? Nah, never in a bazillion years. Then why did I feel warm all of a sudden?
~ ~ ~



Rory grudging keeps lookout while I insert my sturdy hooked wire and a tiny screwdriver into the lock. My technique sucks; lock-picking is something you really have to practice, and I bet Kyle could jimmy this in sixty seconds or less. Whenever I get one pin to pop, another one drops back down. Twenty minutes later I've gotten nowhere. Sweat drips. My knees are killing me.

As his impatience mounts, Rory carries on a soliloquy. “You sure you can do this? Seriously, pick a lock? Who knows how to do that? California, my ass. I bet you’re from the Bronx—”

I jam the wire for the ninety-ninth time, cussing the stubborn pins. “I know what I’m doing! Quit distracting me.” Jiggle, push…jiggle, push…I’m about to give up when I hear a satisfying pop. “Ha!”

“Sweet.” He sounds genuinely impressed.

We cringe at the frigid air as the door swings open. I also came prepared with a flashlight, and a clothesline I found in our gloomy cellar. Rory watches with distrust as I tie the rope to my belt loop and hand him the other end.

“Whatever you do,” I say, breathless, “do not come in after me. Just pull me back by the rope if, you know, haha, I get attacked by something.” My feeble laugh dies at his furious expression.

“One dumbass move, you twit, and I’m yanking you in like a walleye.”

“Ooh, I love it when you talk sexy.”


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 10th, 2010 01:55 am (UTC)
Great writing. Great reading. I'm back from EPICon. I don't have to plan another meeting or workshop. I don't have to worry about hotel details. I'm free. FREE I TELL YOU!! I'm going to take a few days off to catch up on sleep, and then I'm going to vanish into that realm of words and plot. When I come up for air maybe I'll have a few chapters written. But I still missed most of grapemo. :(
Mar. 10th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
You are back! It's over!

Don't worry, I'll get you next year...unless, of course, you're planning a repeat performance. ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Jeannine Garsee

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